Kids. Their birthdays. The parties. Ahh, the dilemma. Because as pointed out a recent Slate article, a few balloons, a homemade cake and some Pass The Parcel – or in my case, my dad dressing up as a magician and wowing us with his tricks – just aren’t doing it anymore. Even the fancier celebrations of my childhood (McDonald’s party, anyone?) seem over and done with.
To be honest, the “extravagant kids’ birthday party” is something I hadn’t really thought about before reading this article. But in hindsight, I’ve definitely seen it. My younger siblings have been to parties where they’ve recorded themselves singing and brought home their personal CD; where Nerf guns were provided for entertainment; where mini makeovers took place. And in the more extreme cases that you hear about, parties are happening at ski resorts, or involve limo rides, or take place at home but with the help of an expensive stylist. And we’re not talking 21-year olds, we’re talking little munchkins!
Why is this happening? Is it the fault of the parents or the kids? Here’s what I think is going on:
Thinking that everyone’s doing it.
Let’s be real – I can’t be the only who’s seen at least 10 Frozen-themed birthday cakes this year. If parents aren’t stopping to think about whether some component of a party is unnecessary or extravagant, and if they can afford it, what’s going to stop them?
Outward show of being a good parent.
I doubt that this is intentional, but a birthday party is a chance to prove oneself as a good parent. It’s a public display of affection, if you will, where lavishness and unique entertainment may be taken as the degree of love the parents have for their child. And no parent wants to look bad in that department!
Kids are demanding it.
Kids are great, but a lot of them are spoilt these days. They expect a lot, and when they see what others kids have, they want it too – or more, or better. It’s hardly likely that they’re going to go to their friend’s theme park party and then be thrilled about staying at home for their own.
Looks better on social media.
What’s going to get more likes on Facebook – some kids with party hats on; or your five-year old in front of a professionally themed candy buffet and jumping castle? Sad, but true.
A question you might be pondering: is all of this a bad thing? Is it so bad to want to create memories of your child’s milestones, to spend a bit bigger on these special days? To be honest, I cannot judge the intentions of any parent, and every family has a different budget. But personally, I think there are more important things for kids than fancy parties. As long as a child is truly loved and cared for, and their parents have their best interests at heart, then maybe a big celebration is neither here nor there. What do you think?